Piano Circus - Future Sound of London
On this, the first release on Piano Circus’s own label, the sextet allow themselves a wide musical remit. The 20-minute CD EP finds them employing their various combinations of pianos and digital keyboards in tackling two African pieces and one from electronica pioneers Future Sound of London. Kumakudo, transcribed from a piece for the mbira (thumb piano), has a cyclical construction with “constantly mutating” inner structures, as the group’s Max Richter puts it. Here he develops on the original, subtly shifting its gorgeous melodies through rhythmic sleight of hand.
Future Sound of London were born in the linear techno scene of the late 1980s but have become increasingly keen to employ more complex structures. Richter collaborated on the original version of Glass from FSOL’s 1996 album “Dead Cities”. He questions whether the material can survive the transition to acoustic instruments – which it does, but with the aid of some rather utilitarian rhythm programming. Surely it would have been more interesting to have used exclusively acoustic instruments – as the Balanescu Quartet did on “Possessed” with their brilliant reworking of compositions by 1970s German electronic group Kraftwerk.
Mazuzu Dream, dedicated to the memory of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, is the highlight, a piece of Southern African township jive where all six pianos are brought into play. A tolling bass-line and shimmering high notes bring a delightful reinterpretation of jive’s sweet, singing guitar, and the pianists’ rhythmic articulation makes it really swing. '